Long Island’s Democratic senator-elects will prioritize their constituents, Lavine says

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District 7's Senator-elect Anna Kaplan on election night. District 7 is one of three in Nassau County that flipped democratic last week. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

After an eightyear hiatus, New York’s Senate will soon be blue again.

Nassau County had a big say in that change. Three districts in the county voted out Republican incumbents, and the senators for the five districts that encompass the county will be Democrats.

Seven-term Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who was re-elected last Tuesday, has several theories about how the Democrats swept the area, one being that they promised to prioritize Long Island, he said.

But will they?

Before sweeping the island’s Senate seats in 2012, Republicans campaigned on claims that Democrats had betrayed it during their years in power, a position that  Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), who lost last week, reiterated on the campaign trail this fall.

Lavine said he is confident the elected Democrats will keep their promise and serve as Long Island’s advocates in Albany.

“Each of them has promised to fight for Long Island and they know that if they don’t produce they will not be re-elected, and I expect each of them wants to be re-elected,” he said.

Lavine also said he thinks the Democratic victory was connected to how Republican Long Island politicians handled education, in particular, charter schools and “drop dead” testing.

The Republican Senate included provisions in its 2017-18 budget that would have removed a cap on the number of charter schools in the state and channeled more state funds into those schools.

North Shore communities protested the Senate’s action.

“I think that they were a giant step removed from a lot of the concerns that Long Islanders faced,” Lavine said, referring to local Republican senators. “I think that was what helped contribute to their defeat.”

While some voters found their Republican senators out of touch with the communities they served, others have historically reproached Democrats for exhibiting the same behavior, Lavine said.

“Democrats were accused of wanting to run for election so they could please Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York City,” Lavine said. “Most of those Democrats had never met Bill.”

But local issues weren’t the only ones that brought Democrats out to the polls last week, Lavine said. Rhetoric promoted by Republicans on a national scale, especially by the president, has raised fears about the health of American democracy, and Long Islanders responded by voting, he said.

National issues trickle down to local politics, Lavine said.

“Sadly the Republican Party had become anti-public education, it had become anti-health care, it had become pro-gun, anti-women’s rights, anti-human rights in general,” Lavine said. “That’s not Long Island. We live here because this is a pretty enlightened part of the world, and they had lost touch with the reality. The people who had been elected on the Democratic side have not lost touch with that reality.”

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